Nearly three decades ago, Andres Magana Ortiz was smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico when he was 15. As a teenager, he picked coffee in Hawaii as a migrant worker.
Over the years, and with hard work, he rose through the ranks of Hawaii’s Kona coffee district, raised a family, and became a respected local farmer managing more than two–dozen local farms.
On Friday, after a long legal battle, Magana said goodbye to his wife and three children and boarded a plane for central Mexico, where he no longer has significant familiar roots.
Magana, 43, is the latest of thousands of cases in which the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is tearing families apart and destroying communities instead of ridding the U.S. of the “bad guys.”
Magana’s case is well–known in Hawaii, where the community rallied in a failed effort to help him stay. His cause also was taken up by a Hawaiian congressional delegation, which asked the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider Magana’s deportation order, noting that he and his wife and children, who are U.S. citizens, were trying to obtain his legal status.
According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Magana worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and helped local coffee farmers control a destructive beetle, the coffee berry borer.
The Obama administration initiated deportation proceedings against Magana in 2011, but issued a temporary stay three years later, the newspaper reported. But the Trump administration, under its new directive to deport as many undocumented immigrants across the country as possible, ordered him removed last March. Magana’s lawyers appealed that order to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, CA.
Although that court ruling last May went against Magana, Judge Stephen Reinhardt issued a rare statement condemning the Trump administration’s order to deport him, the Associated Press reported at the time.
“President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres,’” Judge Reinhardt wrote. “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe.”
Reinhardt added that the removal of Magana is “inhumane” and “contrary to the values of the country and its legal system.” But, he concluded, he had no authority to block the deportation order.
Reinhardt’s observations about the disconnect between the Trump administration’s public statements that immigration officials were focused on deporting dangerous criminals and the reality that they were targeting law–abiding members of the community proved correct. On Friday, ProPublica published a February memo in which the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit in charge of deportations, Matthew Albence, directed 5,700 deportation officers to “take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.”
This flies in the face of numerous statements by President Trump, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and other officials that the ongoing immigration crackdown emphasized undocumented immigrants who “posed a public threat.”
Kelly repeated those claims as recently as Friday, stating at the end of a three–day visit to Mexico that immigration officials have focused on detaining and deporting immigrants with criminal records, The Washington Post reported.
According to ProPublica, from February to May, the Trump administration arrested an average of 108 undocumented immigrants a day with no criminal record, a 150% increase over the previous year (emphasis mine).
Meanwhile, back in Hawaii on Friday, Magana bid farewell to his wife and three children, ages 12, 14, and 20.
“Very, very said and very disappointed in many ways, but there’s not much I can do,” Magana said at Kona International Airport, Hawaii News Now reported.
According to immigration laws, it’s possible that Magana wouldn’t be allowed to return to the U.S. for 10 years. He’s now in Morelia, in the Mexican state of Michoacán.